Love  By  cover art

Love

By: Elizabeth von Arnim
Narrated by: Eleanor Bron

Publisher's Summary

A gentle romance begins innocently enough in the stalls of a London theatre where Catherine is enjoying her ninth and Christopher his thirty-sixth visit to the same play. He is a magnificent young man with flame-coloured hair. She is the sweetest little thing in a hat. There is just one complication: Christopher is 25, while Catherine is just a little bit older. Flattered by the passionate attentions of youth, Catherine, with marriage and motherhood behind her, is at first circumspect, but finally succumbs to her lover's charms.

©1925 Elizabeth von Arnim (P)2014 Audible, Inc.

What listeners say about Love

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Sensible, touching and hilarious

Absolutely delightful. It is both moving and (at least for the first 3/4 of it) hilarious. The performance so strikingly perfect that I am going to search for more Eleanor Bron's recordings: exquisite.
As per the plot, incredibly original! I knew nothing about the author... and a few minutes after starting this audiobook, I rushed to look her up on Wikipedia (suspecting I stumbled upon a contemporary writer affecting an older style--I was wrong! Von Arnim is from another century but has an awareness that puts to shame most of our contemporaries.)
The story is both irreverent and a delicate, yet inexorable, feminist manifesto. It vibrates with a desire for modernity, freedom, anti-conformism and a wish to break with the dusty morality of the hypocritical oppressive past.
And yes, as the title announces it is a story about love. But a love so sensibly parodic to leave no room for soapy sentimentality. Amazing!

10 people found this helpful

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Talk about not aging well...

Oof... under a modern lens, this story certainly doesn’t sit well, but even taking into consideration when the book was written, the blatant misogyny and abuse the protagonist endures at the hands of EVERY male character seems absurd. I kept waiting for the story to redeem itself, but, wow... no. Is it satire? Tongue in cheek? Am I missing the point?
The narrator was great and the words well-written but the plot and characters are stuck in patriarchal quicksand where “love” isn’t anywhere to be found.

7 people found this helpful

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Narrator is Wonderful!

I read and LOVED the book but this narration was over the top fabulous and brought it home even more sweetly. Thank You!

6 people found this helpful

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A Quiet Masterpiece!

Would you consider the audio edition of Love to be better than the print version?

I haven't read the print version, but the narrator is so superb that I think I would always choose listening to this book over reading it.

What about Eleanor Bron’s performance did you like?

Eleanor Bron was able to subtly change her voice for each character, which made it much easier to follow who was who. She is so gifted that each different character truly came to life!

5 people found this helpful

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An amazing discovery!

How wonderful to discover a novel so well written and delightful and true - by an author I had never heard of. The voices of the characters, the author and the narrator will stay with me for a long time.

4 people found this helpful

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This book is about hypocrisy.

This book was originally published in 1925. It was written during a different age, however the hypocrisy it points out has not changed. Society doesn't frown upon a man who marries a younger woman, but if a woman tries the same thing...

4 people found this helpful

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Good entertainment!

Entertaining & did not offend me. An abrupt ending but what a good, no, GREAT narrator!

4 people found this helpful

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Misperceptions, Vanities, Anxieties

Von Arnim explores her characters’ motives, thoughts and emotions with a surgical insight and merciful, gentle humor very reminiscent of Anthony Trollope. Her tone and themes bear a close resemblance to his work as well. So much so that, while I enjoyed this story immensely, I imagined every scene played in Victorian frock coats, stiff collars, bustles, and bloomers; whenever a car or motorcycle came along, I had to drag myself forward to 1925, when the novel was first published.

This tale of misperceptions, vanities, anxieties—all the phenomena generated by that thing called human love—also features a Trollopian realism: heroes and heroines sometimes less than heroic; villains seldom villains through and through. Though a romance, von Arnim never slops over into Romance. And Eleanor Bron expresses it all perfectly, the humor, the tragedy, and everything in between.

3 people found this helpful

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Forward for Its Era

This book must be read in the context in which it was written. Things the modern reader takes for granted as normal today, are emerging concepts in the 1920s (long fought for, but only slowly being made manifest) - such as gender equality, and universal suffrage. Arnim paints a portrait of paternalistic men, who for all their avowed love, ensnare their wives in plans meant to help, but which ultimately harm. They appear at first to be morally and emotionally strong men who are revealed as being blind to the reality of situations. While, their devoted, frail, and clinging wives, are in actuality the strength behind them - being forced by their compromised situations to see things as they really are and to act accordingly.

With examples that may seem subtle today, but which would be apparent to a contemporary audience Arnim explores the cultural revolution that is threatening the concepts of wife and mother and womanhood in the 1920s. She looks at aging and how it effects men and women differently in their behavior toward each other and in how they are perceived by the world. While the desire to appear young has always existed, the 1920s saw the development of industries to promote and champion the promise of youth. She focuses on the purchase of lipstick as an incident. (Lipstick until the 20s was used almost exclusively by prostitutes, face powder being the only acceptable cosmetic for a lady.) Marriage was a demarkation in a woman's life. Before marriage there was one code of conduct, appropriate social activities and clothing acceptable for a single "girl". After marriage, regardless of the age of the now "woman", a different more restricted code of conduct, social activities and clothing was expected. Like flipping a switch, a woman was expected to adjust her attitude, behavior, and appearance the moment she was married.

Elizabeth von Arnim is writing at the beginning of what promised to be a "modern" and "enlightened" era. The 1920s saw a revolution in politics, culture, fashion, and art. So much that had been unthinkable just 20 years before seemed to happen over night and was shaking long established traditions and cultural norms. The roles women played changed more in this decade than in almost a century before. They had been given the right to vote (1918 UK, 1920 USA - Nancy Astor takes her place in Parliament Dec. 1919). They had entered the work force en-masse durning WWI, and as the 20s rolled in they remained in positions that once were almost exclusively the provenance of men - secretaries, clerks, managers, nurses. The concept of the "working girl" captured the popular imagination. Fashions freed women physically from corsets and stays and long confining skirts, and this freedom becomes manifest in women entering the the amateur and public sports arena. None of this seems surprising today - or perhaps it is surprising that a world ever existed when this seemed radical.

2 people found this helpful

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Incredible

So relatable it's hard to believe it was written a hundred years ago. The story reveals itself as the hearts and minds of the characters weave through each other. Feels serendipitous I had not discovered this book until the age of 39 ;)

2 people found this helpful

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  • Bob
  • 07-19-15

Hated it... Loved it

Any additional comments?

After an hour I wanted to put it down, I had no idea how, it attained a 5 star rating from a reviewer I had happened upon. On it’s opening it reads as I would imagine a bad Mills and Boon but without the sex. The main female character is always giggling and happy and the man appears to be slightly less than a man, more a boy, let’s not call it LOVE, maybe it should be more appropriately called CRUSH, or FOLLY. Why did I not like the beginning, had it been the accent and intonation of the narrator? No the reader’s voice only matched the lack of emotional depth in the text, the one hundred year old text does seem dated, while I don’t doubt that people did used to speak in that frightfully correct way, I do not believe that people thought frightfully correctly, this rankled me as the characters were not real and rounded. All this said I had paid for the novel so I was going to listen to it. However after a few hours something happens and that’s that an engaging story starts to emerge, the characters begin to flesh out, unexpected turns of events come about and some of the fluff disappears. The female lead becomes a real woman with real emotions, the male character finally does something other than just fawn. Finally the societal pressures that are talked about all throughout the book become real and have real life consequences for the characters and I found my self intrigued and a firm fan of the novel from at least half way through to the ending. I found my viewpoint flipped around from one ‘side’ to another and then to the point that I didn’t know what I thought but finally like the characters in the novel I realised that life and love is complicated. A worthwhile read, it’s a story called Love but it doesn’t read like a love story, I hope you enjoy it if you decide to give it a go.

15 people found this helpful

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  • Kaggy
  • 03-21-15

An overlooked and wonderful classic

I am not sure how or why I stumbled across this book but I am so glad I did. Brilliantly read by Eleanor Bron (surely the voice of the archetypical Edwardian lady) this is the story of a middle aged woman and the young man who falls deeply in love with her. Of course there are obstacles in the way, and naturally you will assume the relationship is doomed. But there is so much more to this book than this. This is about love in its many forms and how people are far more complicated than you initially assume. Although this book was written nearly a hundred years ago, our attitudes towards relationships between the young and old have hardly changed and this will stir you just as much as a more modern novel on this subject would.

Elizabeth von Arnim writes with charm, a deceptively delicate touch and a very sly wit that had me chuckling to myself at times. This book also has one of the most powerful and moving endings I have ever read. You will be impressed.

13 people found this helpful

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  • Heidi W-B
  • 08-25-15

Love in a different era

Would you listen to Love again? Why?

Probably not, but that's because there's always something new to listen to, no detriment to the merits of this book

Who was your favorite character and why?

Catherine, as it was really her story.

Which character – as performed by Eleanor Bron – was your favourite?

Mrs Cahoon (if this is how it's spelled), as you got a real sense of her character from the narration.

If you made a film of this book, what would be the tag line be?

no idea - I loved The Enchanted April as a film but couldn't imagine this book being as heart-warming or endearing as that one.

Any additional comments?

It's very easy to listen to a story like this and think it ridiculous that a 47 year old woman would be thought of as an old lady, but once you immerse yourself in the time, you begin to see how different things would be if women these days didn't use make-up, hair-dye, figure enhancing clothes etc.- how differently we may be perceived (I'd definitely be a grey-haired 43 year old!).
It's quite a sad story in many respects, but some parts told with humour and a peacefulness that keep you listening and hoping for positive ending.
The two male characters (Christopher and Stephen) are both slightly ridiculous in their beliefs and occasional outbursts but I found I had sympathy for them both.

5 people found this helpful

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  • Katherine
  • 01-21-15

Wonderful book

Loved this book and one I would enjoy reading again. It was well written and a very clever but in a way sad story.

3 people found this helpful

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  • Anonymous User
  • 08-31-21

It’s makes you glad to be a woman over 40 in 2021!

Having read and watched the film, The Enchanted April by E Von A, many times, a friend recommended Love.
I nearly switched it off, very dated, slightly crazy characters, but of their time .. however she was ahead of her times and many of the themes are universal and thoughtfully written about, crushing hypocrisy.

Well narrated and worth listening to just to hear her pronounce forehead!

Certainly it makes me glad to be living in 2021 as an old woman over 50! Haha

2 people found this helpful

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  • Daisy
  • 03-09-20

A prize. Love Love

Love Love. I felt such frustration with the characters and what they did and thought even though they were a people of their time. It's impossible not to sympathize with them. I'd never heard of the author before (I just listened to Enchanted April). The ending, I think, let's you make up your own mind about "Love" whilst it has whisked you from one view to another during your reading. I wish Elizabeth von Arnim had written more. Beautifully read by Eleanor Bron.

2 people found this helpful

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  • Pamela
  • 12-21-21

Heavy-Handed

Let me begin by saying Eleanor Bron is an excellent narrator.
Love, unfortunately, starts with the male and female protagonists meeting in a situation so unlikely and so improbable that I nearly did not get any further. The protagonist, Christopher the male is considerably younger than Catherine. But his behavior is so bizarre, forceful, and stalkerish that it does not seem like true love but someone who needs to be reported to the police. Even allowing for changes in social manners and mores is bizarre. One of the biggest problems I have is that one is never sure upon what young Christopher's great love for Elizabeth is based. She herself is unsure, whence her obsession commences. It just is not credible. Catherine giggles all the time and Christopher behaving in an overbearing way it really lacks credibility.
Von Arnim in several of her novels has men behaving like thumping boors or silly schoolboys, and neither have any morals and are extremely selfish. Again this is one of those novels and after noticing that trope from other writings it is off-putting.

1 person found this helpful

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  • Alison
  • 06-02-20

Not Quite Right - For Me

I do love the charming and often slyly funny style of Elizabeth von Arnim, and the way it transports you to another era. However, this was not my favourite. Mainly because I felt I has been transported much further back than the 20th century - it felt more like Regency England, except for the presence of telephones, the underground, and cars.

But the story was sweet, and clever, really, as well as being very touching. I veered quite a lot between being rather infuriated by or really disliking almost everyone, and then back to having some sympathy for most if not all. I quite liked the ending which I won't spoil, other than to say I suppose it resolved itself as best it could, probably, at least for the 2 main actors. And I did wish I had a little longer with the story, maybe just a year or so.

The narration was faultless, and a key part of my enjoyment of this book.

1 person found this helpful

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  • M Orr
  • 10-16-19

A bittersweet story of love

I very much enjoyed 'Love'. It's a moving story of romantic and familial loves, read excellently by Eleanor Bron.

1 person found this helpful

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  • Samar
  • 11-16-16

Pleasant piece

A very interesting plot which one would think bears resemblance to the novelist's own life. A mix of the unusual with the real which keeps one in some suspense & which unearths some deep & genuine human feelings, delivered in a remarkably soothing voice.

1 person found this helpful